Mekong Hotel (2012)

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Supposedly a “small film”, a “rehearsal” of a script he wrote 10 years ago about a mother who confesses to her daughter that she is a vampire. It takes place in a hotel by the Mekong River. Most of the shots are setup on balconies so you are looking at the river down below. Sometimes you see shots at the level of the water too, but with the actors in the forefront. At first you think it’s going to be a boring fixed camera film and you won’t understand anything if you don’t pay attention to the dialog, but then it turns out that the scenes are short, the situations are straight forward, and the continuous guitar soundtrack is as enthralling as it is hypnotic.

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In the end you feel as though you were taken to another place, and you were let in on conversations about important matters like war, the economy, spirituality, and love, but told through regular people without any other pretension than to keep living their lives trying to find some peace.

Almost every reviewer on the internet has called it a fan-only type of movie. I haven’t seen “Uncle Boomee”, but I’ve seen “Syndromes of a Century” which I really liked. I’m not sure why people seem to lose interest in the film to the point they fail to see its running themes. There are a few shots of each character feeding on what looks like fish entrails, supposedly “possessed” by an evil spirit and that’s the closest the film comes to being “fantastical”. Otherwise it’s pretty much a naturalistic cinema shot in setting-sun light. It doesn’t push any of its ideas, it opens a door so you can enter, and if you do, it’s really really really wonderful. I felt like I was on a smooth relaxing drug while watching it.

Here’s a clip from it: http://vimeo.com/42879049

Here are some negative reviews:

“For fans only…”
“A diverting footnote…”
“Unfinished…”
“Ultimately destined for sidebars and retrospectives, installations and devotees.”

After the screening, I took the metro and there was a mother with her teenager daughter that were in the movie theater next to me, sitting next to me on the train as well. They didn’t fit your profile of typical “cinephiles”, but the girl talked about the way the shots were held for a long time. I can’t think of a better example of cinema changing peoples’ consciousness. This was shown at the Documentary Festival in Montreal although it’s clearly a hybrid-fiction. I think Apichatpong Weerasethakul is on the “good side” of things and I’m happy to see his work getting more exposure.

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Categories: Notes

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